Behind every great installation, there's a good story -- meet the Trudinger-Smith family. Ash and Lisa Anne, along with their three children, have turned their central Tucson home into a working model of sustainability by installing a 4.73 kW solar electric (PV) system in January 2011.

Their primary goal when deciding to install solar was to generate clean electricity; however, they are also enjoying that the system helps reduce their utility bills to free up funds for things other than paying bills. And, with a young family they see themselves in the house for many years to come. According to Ash, “We had been living in our house for about 11 years and we finally decided that there was no reason to keep waiting. We’re in a great house and neighborhood that we love.”

Although for the Trudinger-Smith family, installing solar was a green statement and an investment in the future of their children, they wanted their actions to serve as a motivator for others in their neighborhood. According to Lisa Anne, “If you live in a place as sunny as Tucson, and if you can afford to have solar it seems like a travesty to not have it.”

“Solar panels are more than just feel good technology, because it requires no coal or water.  Currently, we burn a trainload of coal per day to provide electricity to Tucson. Environmentally, it makes the most sense. All of the labor and materials that it took to manufacture these panels will be recouped in 2 years,” said Ash.

“We wanted to get 100% of our power from solar, I don’t want to use any coal generated electricity. We have 22 SunPower high-efficiency panels. Currently, we’re making more electricity than we’re using.

“Since we installed the system, it’s amazing how many of our neighbors have stopped by to ask questions,” said Lisa Anne. “And, Ash enjoys checking the consumption meter throughout the day. He’s constantly saying ‘Who’s using any electricity’? Then he goes around and turns off lights, which is great.“

Agreeing, Ash laughed and explained, “We have a SunPower performance monitoring account, so I can get on the computer and compare our electricity consumption to our production. The kids have been excited about the solar, but they don’t care about the consumption meter. I’m the only one who cares about the consumption. I find it fascinating to find out how much we are using and which appliances and lifestyle actions tend to use the most electricity. Something I found interesting was that on cleaning day, we have a tendency to use more electricity. I see a spike when I run the vacuum, and I can see a difference in the consumption meter when we watch TV.”

Ash offers simple straightforward advice for others considering going solar, “Get it done sooner than later, you’ll be happy you did,” Ash laughs and says “this also happens to be my advice for having children.”